Constructing a Legacy Part II: The William P. Jungclaus Company from 1924-1967

Updated: Jul 29

A previous post about the history of the William P. Jungclaus Company covered the history of the general contracting firm from its inception in the 1870's to 1924, and the death of the namesake of the company, William P., on October 30th of that year. William's eldest son, Fredrick Jungclaus, who had been involved with his father’s company for many years in various officer and management positions, took over the reins of the firm following his father’s death.


At the time of William’s death, the company was in the middle of several major projects. One of the projects pending at the time of William's passing was located on the southwest corner of Meridian and St. Clair, where a massive new Elk’s Lodge was being constructed.

The project was marred by a blackmail scandal pursued by a John J. McNamara, who was associated with a local iron workers union. McNamara was also alleged to have threatened workers and contractors on the project, including Fredrick Jungclaus, in order to force the use of union iron workers. The lodge itself no longer stands and has been replaced with a parking lot on the opposite, southwest corner from the Central Library.


In the summer of 1924, Jungclaus began construction on a new home for the Columbia Club on Monument Circle. The contract for the project had been awarded prior to William P.'s death in 1924 and the new building was completed in 1925. Contained in the archives of the Indiana Historical Society is the original project proposal provided by Jungclaus for project. This was signed by Fredrick Jungclaus on behalf of the company.


The Columbia Club was the second project done by Jungclaus on the Circle following their previous construction of the Guaranty Building. Like the Guaranty, the Columbia Club was designed by Rubush & Hunter, continuing what was becoming a frequent collaboration between the architecture firm and the William P. Jungclaus, Co. Unfortunately, the Jungclaus-Campbell archival materials do not contain any photos from the construction of the Columbia Club, although a framed copy of the architectural schematics (below) for the building are located in the Jungclaus-Campbell offices.

Indianapolis history Columbia club Jungclaus Campbell

In late 1924 into 1925, Jungclaus was overseeing the construction of an addition to the French Lick Hotel in French Lick, Indiana. 1925 also saw Jungclaus complete an expansion to the previously completed Real Silk Mill complex and the construction of the iconic Illinois Building at Illinois and Market Street. The images below show the construction progress on the Illionois Building on July 17, September 1, and November 6, 1925. The photos appear to have been taken from the then still standing Traction Terminal building, on the opposite corner from the Illinois Building. Unclear why the photos are labeled "Block Building." The W.H. Block building is located across the street from the Illinois building.

The Illinois building is currently undergoing a remodel and will eventually be the location of a new hotel, in addition to the Hyde Park Steakhouse and Giordano's Pizza which occupy the street level of the building. The lower two floors are faced with green granite, while the remainder of the building is limestone.

Indianapolis history Illinois building Jungclaus Campbell

In 1925, Jungclaus was contracted for the construction of another still-standing landmark in Indianapolis: The Indiana Theater. Located at 140 West Washington Street, the theater, known more commonly today as the Indiana Repertory Theater, is known for its detailed white tera cotta facade, which includes numerous details carved details. The construction did not actually start on the project until 1927.

The Jungclaus-Campbell archival materials do not include any photos of the Indiana Theater under construction. However, it appears the album of these photos was provided to the Department of the Interior (and later the Library of Congress) for the Historic American Buildings Survey, which is where the construction photos above were located (a full cite to this is located in the sources section). The letter below indicates the photos were returned to Jungclaus-Campbell, although I was unable to locate them.


An area of consistent business for Jungclaus was construction on schools for the Indianapolis Public Schools. This continued during the 1920's, and the firm was selected in 1925 construct the new Washington High School, on the west side of Indianapolis along Washington Street. This project was completed in 1926, and the high school still stands today on the south side of west Washington Street, although it has undergone several expansions since the original construction.

As noted in the previous post about the history of the firm, Jungclaus had constructed the Manual High School, and in 1927 it won the contract for an addition to school 54 (located at 3150 E. 10th Street). The next year, Jungclaus won the contract for the construction of the Arsenal Technical Highschool auditorium, and in 1928, a contract for work on School 43, known as James Whitcomb Riley School, located at Capital and 40th Streets.


In May of 1929, Jungclaus won a contract for the construction of the company's third building on Monument Circle, and one that would become one of most iconic structures in Indianapolis: The Circle Tower on the southeast quadrant of the circle.

Indianapolis history architecture Jungclaus Campbell

I wrote a blog post dedicated solely to the construction of the Circle Tower which can be viewed at this link. The Circle Tower, designed by Rubush & Hunter (who also designed the Guaranty building) is known for its Art Deco style and was included in the Monument Circle Historic District in 1997.


Like the 1920’s, the 1930’s would be a busy time for the Jungclaus firm despite the onset of the Great Depression. In 1930 Jungclaus was retained to construct a major project in their own neighborhood, the Coca-Cola bottling plant located in the Massachusetts Avenue. Located less than half a block away from the Jungclaus campus, the ornate Art Deco structure would eventually sprawl over multiple blocks following expansions in the later years.


Today, the bottling plant and surrounding land have been redeveloped into a multi-use facility called Bottleworks. Period photos of the construction of the bottling plant are displayed in the Garage food hall, which were provided by Jungclaus-Campbell. (The bottling plant and its construction will be the subject of a future independent post)


In May of 1931 Norman A. Perry, the president of the Indianapolis Indians baseball club, announced that the Osborne Engineering company of Cleveland, Ohio had been selected to design a new baseball field which would host the Indians and later the Indianapolis Clowns, which was part of the Negro League. The William P. Jungclaus Co. would handle construction of the project. Perry also pledged that only local labor would be used on the construction, considering the ongoing depression. The stadium was constructed in a relatively unoccupied part of the city, northwest of downtown, and north of Fall Creek, which had been part of property previously owned by the Indianapolis Water Company, and its predecessors.


In 1942 Perry Stadium was renamed Victory Field, and in August of 1967, the stadium was renamed again as Bush Stadium, in honor of the team’s president and former player, Owen Bush. By the 1990’s the stadium’s condition was deteriorating, and the city approved funds for a new stadium closer to downtown. The final game at Perry/Bush Stadium was played on July 3, 1996.


A dirt racing track was opened at the stadium in 1996 but ceased operations in 1999. After this the property was used as overflow parking for IUPUI, and as a “clunker” storage area, during the Cash for Clunkers program in 2009-2010. In 2011 a plan was announced which would convert the stadium into an apartment complex, preserving the limestone façade and other components of the original structure.


In 1932 Jungclaus constructed new storage containers for the Acme Evans milling operations on Washington Street near the White River, and in March of 1932, the firm won the contract for another prominent project: The Indiana State Library. Contracts were awarded in March of ’32 and construction continued into 1933. The history of this project was described in its own dedicated post from earlier this year, which can be accessed here. The story of that project was made more interesting because the Jungclaus family actually owned the land where the state library was to be located, just west of the Statehouse, and some tenants on that land filed suit in response to the state’s efforts to purchase the property.


1932 continued to be a busy year, and the contract for the construction of the new building for the IU School of Dentistry on the present day IUPUI campus was awarded to Jungclaus. The project was designed by Robert Frost Daggett and constructed at 1121 W Michigan Street. The Indianapolis Star presented a rendering of the proposed academic building (below), which would be faced with Indiana limestone and was to be finished in the summer of 1933. Jungclaus won the contract with a bid of $165,000.


The building still stands today (Google Streetview map above) although it has been expanded several times over the past 90 years (additions are not visible in the 'today' image above).

Indianapolis Star, May 18, 1933

Despite the ongoing Great Depression, projects continued to come to the Jungclaus firm, and in May of 1933, an opportunity arose to expand the company’s footprint on Massachusetts Avenue. On May 17, Fredrick and Bertha Jungclaus purchased the property on the northeast corner of Massachusetts Avenue and St. Clair Street, which was just southwest of the Jungclaus offices and mill, and adjacent to the Schumacher Contracting firm (which used to be part of a partnership with Jungclaus).


Several commercial structure and homes existed on the site (red highlighted area in the Baist map below) and Fredrick told the Star that the property was to be an addition to the firm’s property on that block. A month after the sale was final Jungclaus announced plans to construct a "modern super service station" on the property, which would be leased to the Lincoln Oil Refining Company. The service station is visible in the Baist map below, located on the point of the property at Massachusetts and St. Clair and labeled "gas sta."

Indianapolis history Baist map massachusetts Avenue
IUPUI Baist and Sanborn Collection, 1941 Baist Atlas

In 1934 the Jungclaus family lost their matriarch when Marie Jungclaus, William P.'s wife, passed away at the age of 83. In 1935, the family, and company, lost another member when Henry Jungclaus, William P. and Marie's second son, and the vice president of the company, died while he and his wife were traveling in California.


The 1920's through to the 1950's saw Jungclaus involved in several church construction projects. In 1928 the contract for a new building for the Third Church of Christ, Scientist was awarded to Jungclaus. The church was to be located on the northwest corner of 34th and Washington Boulevard, and per the Indianapolis Star (excerpt below), the church's architecture was to be "unusual in a Christian Science Church because nearly all congregations of that denomination have held to classical architecture."

The new church building was to be designed a "modern perpendicular type of architecture" which had its inception in a Gothic style and was to be constructed of Indiana limestone.


Another church project was the construction of the chapel at what was then known as the Indiana Girl's School on the far west side. Designed by Karl Norris from East Chicago, the structure was built using funds from the Works Progress Administration. and featured a limestone pillared entrance.

The structure still stands today but no photos of the construction are contained in the Jungclaus archives, although the rendering below appeared in the Indianapolis News on December 3, 1938.


In 1941, Jungclaus was hired to construct the new Mayer Chapel Presbyterian Church and Neighborhood House at Norwood and West Street on the southside of downtown. The chapel had begun in the 1890's as an outreach effort by the Second Presbyterian Church for individuals living in the industrial area south of downtown, particularly younger people. The chapel was named for Charles Mayer, a local merchant, whose family, and especially his son Ferdinand, supported the chapel financially. No photos of this project are contained in the Jungclaus-Campbell archive, although the building is still standing, but does not appear to still be in use.


Another church project was the 1950 construction of the Meridian Street United Methodist Church at 5500 North Meridian Street. This project was the subject of its own independent post which can be accessed here.


In 1936 Jungclaus won the contract for yet another landmark in the core of downtown, just off the Circle at the intersection of Washington and Meridian Streets: The new Wasson's Department Store building. The flagship Wasson's department store was already housed in a series of three buildings along the north side of Washington Street just east of Meridian Street. The plans for the new Art Deco style building, designed by Rubush & Hunter, was to incorporate the original buildings into the project (they would be refaced), and then add a large addition on the northwest corner of Meridian and Washington Street. In the construction images below, likely taken from the Merchant's Bank Building on the opposite corner (present day Barnes and Thornburg), the first image shows the "Wasson's" painted on the east side of one of the original buildings, before it is enveloped within the new structure in the subsequent images and covered by the limestone exterior.

The refacing and eventual enclosure of one of the preexisting store fronts can be seen below. Note the taller building in the background with the "Wasson's" sign painted on the side, which appears in the images above.

This section of the building being refaced in the images above would be demolished in 1948, and a new addition built to match the height of the portion of the building to the east. This project was also handled by Jungclaus, and part of the construction is shown below. The image below is looking south and was taken from the roof of a building on Monument Circle which was also owned by Wasson's (Emmis Communications is presently located on that site). The LS Ayres building is seen across the street in this image.


In 1979 the Wasson's store closed, and a variety of tenets occupied the building over the next couple of decades. In 1996 a major renovation was completed on the building, and the Indiana State Department of Health has been the major tenant of the building for the past fifteen years. The property was named to the National Register of Historic Places in December of 1997. The registration document for the building (accessible here) notes the two other significant examples of Art Deco design in downtown are the Circle Tower and the Coca Cola Bottling Plant, both of which were also designed by Rubush & Hunter, and constructed by the William P. Jungclaus Co. The registration document notes that Wasson's was built several years after the other two buildings, which "are earlier deco examples designed by Rubush and Hunter reflecting an era of more elaborate design than the Wasson Building."


Moving away from downtown and continuing with their tradition of constructing school buildings for Indianapolis Public Schools, in September of 1939, Jungclaus won a contract for the construction of a new building for School 86 at the corner of 49th Street and Boulevard Place in Butler-Tarkington. This project, and the history of the school in general, was covered in this dedicated post from June 2022. In 1939-1940, an addition on the east side of the building was constructed, also by Jungclaus. The building still stands today (for now), although the departure of its last tenant, the International School, calls the future of the building, and the property on which it sits into question. Butler University has owned the property for the past 20 years, and the land being adjacent to campus could result in the demolition of the school for a new university use.


The Coca Cola Bottling Plant underwent an expansion in 1947, and once again Jungclaus won the construction contract to expand the building they had originally constructed back in 1930. The late 1940's and into the 1950's saw a series of banking and insurance projects that the company handled across the city. The first was in 1949, and was a relatively small project for the construction of the headquarters of Gregory & Appel insurance, located at 120 East Vermont St. The building was faced with limestone, with the remainder of the building built with a brick exterior.

The building still stands today, although its use has been rather sporadic over the past decade, with it often being vacant and available for lease. The next year, in 1950, Jungclaus constructed an addition to an already prominent landmark in Indianapolis, the Indiana National Bank at the corner of Pennsylvania and Virginia Avenue. The original limestone structure, with its distinctive conical skylight, had been designed by D.A. Bohlen & Son and constructed in 1897 by the Jungclaus firm. Unfortunately, no photos of the construction of the original bank could be located. The 1950 project was a six-story addition to the south end of building, also designed by Bohlen.

The original limestone section of the bank building was demolished in 1970, but the Jungclaus constructed addition still stands, although its exterior has been heavily modified. It presently houses office and residential space and was previously known for being the home of the downtown Scotty's Brewhouse restaurant, prior to that chain's closure. The footprint of the original limestone building is currently a plaza space.

Another project for Jungclaus was the expansion of the Standard Life Insurance building on Fall Creek Parkway North in 1957. Today the building is known at the Julia Carson Government Center.

The construction photos of the Standard Life building are unique, as one shows a Jungclaus family member onsite during construction. In the image below, William H. Jungclaus, the company's vice president and son of Fredrick, is seen (in dark pants and a sport coat) inspecting the site, and especially an ominous looking pit full of water.

Indianapolis history architecture Jungclaus Campbell

While the Jungclaus firm had many successful bids, there were projects which they did not end up as the winning contractor. In 1948 Jungclaus submitted a bid to construct a new headquarters building for the American Legion along the War Memorial Plaza. The Jungclaus bid was $2,092,780, while the winning bid of $1,892,000 was submitted by the National Concrete Fireproofing Company of Cleveland, Ohio. Another prominent project which Jungclaus was unsuccessful in winning was the construction of the Indianapolis Zoo at Washington Park. Bidding took place in 1962, and the zoo, which was predecessor to the present-day zoo, received five bids, with the Jungclaus bid being the fourth highest and the contract awarded to the Bahre company.

On November 23, 1962, Fredrick Jungclaus suffered a stroke while driving to the company's Massachusetts Street office, causing him to crash his car near 23rd and Central. His condition was grave, and he remained hospitalized until his death on December 20, 1962. Unfortunately, his wife, Bertha, had been in the hospital at the time of the crash, and died the day after Fredrick’s stroke. Fredrick had been the head of the company since his father’s death in 1924, having previously been the treasurer/secretary starting in 1907, and a carpentry apprentice before that.


Following Fredrick’s death, his son, William H. Jungclaus took over the company, and William H.'s son, William P. Jungclaus, became vice president, while William H.'s son-in-law, William L. Campbell, was named as secretary. (yes, that is three people named William). William H.’s tenure as president was rather short, and in February 1966, William Campbell became president.


The roughly 40 years between the deaths of William P., and then his son Fredrick were very busy for the Jungclaus company, and this post, while very long, is only a portion of the many projects handled by the company during this time.




Sources


Unless otherwise noted, all structure and construction photos, and Jungclaus documents, provided by Jungclaus-Campbell, Co., Inc., and used with permission.


Indianapolis Star: December 8, 1924, September 13, 1925, May 14, 1931, November 23, 1932, May 18, 1933, June 17, 1933, February 20, 1935, September 13, 1939, November 10, 1940, March 22, August 3, 1962, December 21, 1962, January 6, 1963, Janaury 8, 1967


Indianapolis News: March 26, 1924, April 4, 1931, December 3, 1938, January 31, 1949, December 22, 1949, August 6, 1962


Historic American Buildings Survey, C., Rubush, P. C., Hunter, E. O., Jungclaus, W. P., Circle Theatre Company, Sangernebo, A. [...] Morrison, A. C., Boucher, J. E., photographer. (1933) Indiana Theatre, 134 West Washington Street, Indianapolis, Marion County, IN. Indiana Indianapolis Marion County, 1933. Documentation Compiled After. [Photograph] Retrieved from the Library of Congress, https://www.loc.gov/item/in0059/.

Wasson's Building, Indianapolis, National Register of Historic Places, c7e629e2-9f0f-430a-8952-398afe738328 (nps.gov)


Charles Mayer II and Ferdinand L. Mayer, Encyclopedia of Indianapolis, https://indyencyclopedia.org/charles-mayer-ii-and-ferdinand-l-mayer/


Indianapolis men of affairs, Fredrick Jungclaus (1923), https://archive.org/details/indianapolismeno00unse









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